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In his Autumn Statement, the chancellor, Philip Hammond announced a total of £3.7bn for housing projects across England. Of this sum, £1.4bn will be available to top up the existing £4.7bn due to be spent on grants for affordable housing over the next five years. Treasury estimates suggest that up to 40,000 additional affordable homes could be built as a result.
The call for more affordable housing is not a new one. Despite this, last year the number of affordable homes built in England was at its lowest level in 24 years.
As well as the additional funds the chancellor announced a "large-scale" pilot of the right to buy scheme for housing association tenants. Tenants in local authority housing already enjoy such a right.
Critics of right to buy point out that local authority tenants' right to buy has resulted in fewer affordable homes overall. It has been suggested that the same may happen in relation to housing association stock.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has suggested that for every five council houses sold only one is replaced. Prime minister Theresa May, on the other hand, insists that the Government has delivered on the one-to-one replacement on the right to buy.
Whatever the case, the experience of Ashfords' Public Sector team suggests that it is becoming increasingly common for local authorities to seek advice on the legal means by which they can proactively manage their existing housing stock, as well as seeking support in setting up innovative new delivery models for future affordable homes. We expect, that now that the right to buy is looking like it will be extended to housing association tenants, that housing associations will look to similar means to protect their stock of affordable housing.